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Finding the money to pay for private specialist care for very young children can place a huge amount of stress on families.

Claims information from New Zealand’s largest health insurer, Southern Cross Health Society, shows the top claims for its members aged between 0 and 4 years in 2013 ranged from $6,000 to $15,000.

Peter Tynan, Southern Cross Health Society CEO, says that when a child is ill, all a parent wants is having them well again as soon as possible.

“But the costs for tests and consultations can quickly add up, especially if multiple treatments are required,” says Tynan.

For example, private specialist charges for an on-going throat disorder resulting in a tonsillectomy, can be as high as $7,000. The alternative may mean waiting on public lists for appointments, diagnostics and treatments.

“The public system does an incredible job”, says Tynan. “However what the public has seen in recent years, is that increasing demand for health services means that many patients don’t meet the criteria that allows them onto the surgical waiting lists for elective treatment.”

Health insurance can remove the stress that comes from the uncertainty over whether they will be able to access public surgery, or will have to wait and Tynan says early childhood is the optimal time to get health insurance.

“There’s no doubt that the best time to get insurance is when you’re young and healthy. You’re not only less likely to have pre-existing conditions but it means ensuring optimal treatment at an age when some common problems have been known to cause other health or developmental issues.

Last year Southern Cross paid over 260,000 claims for its members aged under 20. Reassuringly, the majority of these were for medical consultations.

Ends.

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